The Knicks have the opportunity to select the sophomore with the eighth pick in the draft, but Begley reported that teams with higher picks are also interested in the Georgia native.
Vassell was only recruited by two Division I schools before Florida State entered the picture, and he was ranked outside of the top 400 players in the Class of 2018, according to Begley. But his competitive nature and will to improve—highlighted by a rise in three-point percentage to 41 percent in college compared to 21 percent in high school—has allowed him to develop into a legit prospect ahead of the Nov. 18 selection.
"Inside the lines, he wakes up mad every morning,” Seminoles assistant coach Charlton "CY" Young told Begley. "He knows that they had him ranked 17 in the city of Atlanta (in high school). He knows every guy that was ranked ahead of him. He’s got a long list and he’s marking them off. He remembers."
Young offered Vassell a scholarship to join his program after watching his AAU team at a scrimmage, but even the coach who believed in him before most of the D1 basketball world is shocked by his rise to the top of NBA draft boards:
"When he first came to Florida State, I thought he might be there for three-four years and be a pro. Like, 'Bambi’s going to get some bucks on his head, and it’s going to be over.'… Exactly what I thought was going to happen, happened. But what I didn’t factor in—he was (a) high-character gym rat. His humility was through the roof and all he wanted to do was get better. Everything we told him, he tried to do."
In addition to Vassell, the Knicks have been "very inquisitive" about Auburn forward Isaac Okoro, according to Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl (h/t Begley).